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Fury over “chaos” and “unacceptable scenes” at Spain’s major holiday airports 

Tourism leaders in Spain are calling on the government to take urgent action over massive queues and delays at the country’s main airports which, they say, are putting holidaymakers off.

Spain’s Airlines Association (ALA) has urged the Ministry of the Interior to strengthen the capacity of passport controls by bringing in the national police at airports, mainly those with the highest density of international traffic, such as Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Malaga , Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, Gran Canaria, Tenerife South and Alicante.

The ALA says the opening of the important source markets to Spain, including the UK, has unleashed “chaos” and is causing thousands of travellers to miss their flights.

President Javier Gándara said this happened to 5,000 passengers in the last month at Madrid’s Barajas airport and he fears the situation is going to get much worse for Christmas.

“The reopening of Spain to international tourism, added to other factors such as the new migratory measures with the United Kingdom after Brexit, are the causes of a significant saturation of controls in our country, requiring a longer registration time at the border,” said Mr Gandara.

“”The congestion at airports is a great detriment to passengers, both national and international, in the form of delays or loss of flights or connections in the country and an added difficulty to the operation of airlines, already complex due to the pandemic, projecting a terrible international image of Spain.

And he added: “Spain cannot now allow itself a congestion of its airports. At a key moment for the tourism sector such as Christmas and with the sights set on summer, it is imperative to improve passport controls, since the current situation is a grievance for passengers, for airline operations and for the image of Spain abroad.”

“As we warned a few months ago, not adopting the pertinent measures has been a significant damage due to the reactivation of international tourism and the reopening of routes that were paused due to the pandemic, as was the case in the United States.”

The ALA’s  plea echoes complaints made by hoteliers in Tenerife who say the new coronavirus checks are causing long delays.

President of the Ashotel group, Jorge Marichal said it wasn’t acceptable to have more than 200 people crammed into the arrival corridors and double this if two flights coincided. There was no social distancing and passengers had to wait for an hour to get through.

“More than a year has passed since the reactivation of the mobility of people at airports and we continue to learn nothing,” he said. “The first image that a passenger or tourist gets on their arrival in the Canary Islands is the airport.”

“This control is the way to keep the disease at bay but it is essential to properly equip these legal procedures with the necessary resources, in this case, personnel, or to modify the points in which the necessary documentation is required.”

“These circumstances are inconceivable after everything we have experience.”